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Ernie Henry: “Melba’s Tune”

I heard this pretty song — “Melba’s Tune” — while driving the other night. I’m reasonably well acquainted with jazz, but never heard of Ernie Henry. My loss. He was definitely a heavyweight: You don’t get Lee Morgan, Benny Golson, Kenny Dorham and Monk into the studio if are chopped liver. It’s also too bad that there is no video of him playing.

This is the end of his entry at American National Biography Online:

Henry was a tragic figure in jazz. Though not a major innovator, he developed a unique and personal musical voice at a time when few of his contemporaries had done so. His Riverside recordings are among the very best of the years immediately following Charlie Parker’s death, and they bore promise of still greater things to come.

Click here to read more.

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.